Courtesy Esperanza

WEDDINGS—FROM THE MONTHS of planning through the weekend’s activities—can be stressful, exciting and a rollercoaster of emotions. The process is rife with decisions to be made, places to go and things to micromanage. It’s no wonder that when a couple finally gets to spend some time together—alone—all they can think of is: rest, spa and good food.

Unwinding in Wine Country
At Calistoga Ranch, tucked away in the Upper (read: less tourist-packed) Napa Valley off the Silverado Trail, the indoor-outdoor guest lodges are nestled among ancient oak trees with peaceful outdoor living spaces, shower gardens and soaking tubs on wooden decks. The resort embraces the wine and food culture of the area and feels like a sprawling vintner’s estate.

The spa sits on the edge of Lake Lommel and features a natural mineral pool. There, couples can enjoy the private “Sensuous Soak” for two while enjoying the soothing sounds of nature, sipping sparkling wine and enjoying a decadent dessert. The romantic experience finishes with side-by-side aromatherapy massages, foot treatments and conditioning scalp massages with rosemary and whipped shea butter.


Courtesy Calistago Ranch

For a truly pleasurable evening, make an appointment for the “Ultimate Indulgence After Hours.” The night starts with 60-minute aromatherapy massages in the deluxe couples suite. Afterward, you’ll have the spa all to yourself, free to sip Champagne, enjoy the eucalyptus steam room and soak in the warm pools under the stars. A roaring fire, dessert and a private oasis add up to an unforgettable evening. Of course, if you need anything, butler service is included.

You may work up an appetite hiking or doing yoga or tai chi in the vineyard. Dinner at The Lakehouse includes organic ingredients, much of which are grown in the resort’s greenhouse, and features views of the woods and the lake. You may also arrange a private dinner for at least one evening. Dine under the stars on the deck of your lodge or in the majestic wine cave that’s carved deep into a hillside (with candlelight and live music if you please).

Be sure to take the opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside and have the concierge set up wine tastings at some of Calistoga’s and Napa Valley’s most exclusive wineries.

Calistoga Ranch
580 Lommel Road, Calistoga, California
From: $685 to $4,250
Don’t miss: The 90- or 120-minute Sensuous Soak

A South-of-the-Border Sojourn
A private beach resort overlooking the Sea of Cortez in Cabo San Lucas, Esperanza is nestled between a pair of scenic bluffs and features beaches, golf and nightlife.

The Spa at Esperanza utilizes hand-crafted botanicals and indigenous ingredients for its relaxing and healing treatments. The spa experience can be customized with a couples massage, snacks and Champagne. For a particularly romantic time, try the “Damiana Alegre,” which makes use of the native damiana flowers and leaves, reputed to have aphrodisiac benefits. The treatment begins with a private soak in the couples’ pool, then a body exfoliation with native Aztec grain amaranth blended with sea essences. This is followed by a nutritive honey and damiana wrap and scalp and foot massage. Rinse off together in the outdoor shower and then enjoy a relaxing coconut oil massage followed by drinking delicious damiana coconut cream aguas frescas and nibbling on an alegria amaranth pastry.

Esperanza offers a number of ways to delight in the local delicacies. The resort’s tequila and beer expert highlights local brews in afternoon craft beer tastings at Pesca Ceviche Bar, pairing artisanal beers from Mexico with appetizers.

Thursday evenings, Esperanza’s executive chef, Guillermo Gomez, hosts a Cabo cooking class. Guests collect chocolata clams (named for the color of their shells) from the sea and prepare ceviche; then they make pescado zarandeado using fresh herbs from the chef’s garden cooked over a bonfire.

Couples looking to connect should definitely plan a romantic beach dinner. The resort will customize everything, including a three-course menu, a serenade by a mariachi band, fine Champagne and a private bonfire. For a truly grand finale, couples can choose to have a personalized fireworks show light up the sky over the ocean.

To while away the days, rent a cabana. Your fee includes a margarita butler who will handle sunscreen, ice water, towels— and the Margarita Station, which features six different flavors of hand-made cocktails.

Carretera Transpeninsular KM 7 Manzana 10, Punta Ballena, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
From: $550 to $3,500
Don’t miss: The Damiana Alegre

An Oasis in Vegas


Courtesy Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino

The recently renovated Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino gleams at the south end of the strip, and like many of the properties offers easy access to luxury shopping, world-class golf and, of course, games of chance 24 hours a day. However, it’s easy to feel like you have escaped to a more exotic location at the Mandalay Beach, which features real sand, a huge wave pool and the “European”-style Moorea Beach Club.

The 30,000-square-foot Spa Mandalay includes a redwood sauna and eucalyptus steam room. For a sweet sensation, try the Milk and Honey Sugar Scrub, which will leave both of you with glowing skin. Honey-infused Fijian sugar and coconut milk are combined, and natural acids remove dry and dead skin. An application of rich body butter gets you ready for the rest of your day or evening. If that’s not enough, add aromatherapy massage and/or a hydro-bath for two, or you might choose to cap your treatment with Champagne and chocolates in the relaxation lounge.

Dining options at Mandalay Bay read like a who’s who of world-famous chefs: Hubert Keller, Alain Ducasse, Rick Moonen, Wolfgang Puck, Susan Feniger and, of course, Charlie Palmer. Palmer’s Aureole is a treat for the senses. The menu employs fine ingredients, such as Hudson Valley foie gras, Osetra caviar, Wagyu beef and Muscovy duck. Making a selection from the 3,000-bottle wine list (which includes a 1982 Lafite for $17,500) prompts the flight of the restaurant’s Wine Angels, who ascend the four-story wine tower via pulleys and wires to retrieve your choice. Cap off your night with a mocha crème brûlée from room service.

Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas
Weekdays from: $90
Friday and Saturday from: $130
Don’t miss: The 50-minute
Milk and Honey Sugar Scrub